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The Oscar Quest: My Oscar Nominations — Best Supporting Actress (1936-1949)

This is part of a series of articles where I’m putting forth my opinions about what I’d nominate in all of the Oscar Quest categories (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress). Normally I take the categories as they are, but I thought it would be fun to figure out what I’d vote for if I had a ballot each year. Keep in mind, this is only for NOMINATIONS and nothing else.

My only problem with this is that I knew if I did it, too many people, were they doing the same thing, would put on movies that just didn’t belong on an Oscar ballot. (I would too, in some cases. We just like what we like.) My problem was that people would take this exercise as an opportunity to really just go off the rails with stuff (which, if you read through all these articles, you’ll see me call people out for it, since I know exactly which films and which performances people would put on). So my way around this was by creating what I call a “Compromise List” — after I tell you what was actually nominated and what I’d put on my ballot, I’m making a list whereby I try to make everyone happy and keep it mostly close to what would be there, Academy-wise. You’ll see. My lists usually end up being better and not crazy.

The things to take into account with the performance categories — I can only nominate what I’ve seen. So me not seeing something will be a big reason why some stuff doesn’t appear. And, as always, I tell people not to bother me with one random person in one random category, since I have everything to think about. If you want to say something, wait until you’ve seen all the films/tried this yourself before you do it. And I don’t care about foreign performances, for the most part. There’s a long and complicated answer there, but — I don’t. And the big rule for anyone doing this — if someone won a category, YOU CAN’T LEAVE THEM OFF THE COMPROMISE LIST. Can’t do it.

Otherwise — here’s the next set of categories.

1949

Actual Nominees:

  • Ethel Barrymore, Pinky
  • Celeste Holm, Come to the Stable
  • Elsa Lanchester, Come to the Stable
  • Mercedes McCambridge, All the King’s Men
  • Ethel Waters, Pinky

My Vote: Mercedes McCambridge, All the King’s Men

Judy Holliday in Adam’s Rib? I don’t know. She won the Oscar the year after this, and a lot of people weren’t too happy about it. Would those same people be all right with her being nominated here?

Also, the problem with this category isn’t the performances, it’s the names. Look at all the names on this list, save Mercedes McCambridge, who was in her first movie, and Ethel Waters, who you know had to be good, because they don’t exactly rush to give black people Oscar nominations — they’re all pretty big names, who have been nominated multiple times (two of whom had won in the past five years). I don’t know how much they were going to nominate anyone else because of that. Judy Holliday doesn’t add anything to the category, so I don’t see why I’d need to put her on.

I think we might have to leave this on principle. (Not to mention the fact that I don’t have any fucking idea what else to nominate.) There’s not much here that theoretically could happen.

Oh, actually… you know who I have? It’s one of two, but if I remember correctly, it’s really only one… from The Fallen Idol. There was the woman playing his lover and the woman playing his wife. And the wife was probably the one to go. Sonia Dresdel. You think that would have happened? It seems not, since they really only nominated it for Director and Screenplay, but I’d totally put her on over half this category.

But who? Until we figure that out, I’m leaving it. I don’t want to spend too much time on a category I hate.

Compromise List:

  • Ethel Barrymore, Pinky
  • Celeste Holm, Come to the Stable
  • Elsa Lanchester, Come to the Stable
  • Mercedes McCambridge, All the King’s Men
  • Ethel Waters, Pinky

My Vote: Mercedes McCambridge, All the King’s Men

1948

Actual Nominees:

  • Barbara Bel Geddes, I Remember Mama
  • Ellen Corby, I Remember Mama
  • Agnes Moorehead, Johnny Belinda
  • Jean Simmons, Hamlet
  • Claire Trevor, Key Largo

My Vote: Agnes Moorehead, Johnny Belinda

Love me some 1948. No one on this list is really expendable at all, except maybe Ellen Corby. The only alternates I found were Hanna Malik in The Search, which is probably more of a role type of thing than the performance, and maybe someone from The Snake Pit. But I don’t remember the performances that well from it. So I’m just leaving it. I like the category.

Compromise List:

  • Barbara Bel Geddes, I Remember Mama
  • Ellen Corby, I Remember Mama
  • Agnes Moorehead, Johnny Belinda
  • Jean Simmons, Hamlet
  • Claire Trevor, Key Largo

My Vote: Agnes Moorehead, Johnny Belinda

1947

Actual Nominees:

  • Ethel Barrymore, The Paradine Case
  • Gloria Grahame, Crossfire
  • Celeste Holm, Gentleman’s Agreement
  • Marjorie Main, The Egg and I
  • Anne Revere, Gentleman’s Agreement

My Vote: Celeste Holm, Gentleman’s Agreement

The tough thing here was that Marjorie Main wasn’t particularly outstanding, yet Ma Kettle (of Ma and Pa Kettle) was a pretty huge character at the time. So it’s the kind of thing we have to leave (since it spawned a shitload of sequels. Someone like that always gets nominated. She was like the redneck Captain Jack Sparrow of her day). Otherwise, this category almost totally works. Even Ethel Barrymore, who I like to make fun of for only playing characters who are in bed, dying and are morose the whole time, actually does something different here.

I don’t see too many other possibilities (that would actually make sense… there are a lot of land mines this year that I know people will deliberately fall into) for the category — maybe Shelley Winters in A Double Life.

I’d also like to say, were it a legitimate possibility (I’d love to do it anyway, and still might) — Kathleen Byron in Black Narcissus. She was awesome in that as Sister Ruth. (And those of you who’ve read enough of this blog know how much I love me some Sister Ruth.)

But other than that, I got nothing else. On my personal list, I’d put Byron on instead of Main, and I’d look to replace Byron with Barrymore on a Compromise, but we all know that shit ain’t never happening, so I’m just gonna leave it. Just go see Black Narcissus if you haven’t. It’s fucking amazing.

Compromise List:

  • Ethel Barrymore, The Paradine Case
  • Gloria Grahame, Crossfire
  • Celeste Holm, Gentleman’s Agreement
  • Marjorie Main, The Egg and I
  • Anne Revere, Gentleman’s Agreement

My Vote: Celeste Holm, Gentleman’s Agreement

1946

Actual Nominees:

  • Ethel Barrymore, The Spiral Staircase
  • Anne Baxter, The Razor’s Edge
  • Lillian Gish, Duel in the Sun
  • Flora Robson, Saratoga Trunk
  • Gale Sondergaard, Anna and the King of Siam

My Vote: Anne Baxter, The Razor’s Edge

The second I find anyone worthy of nominating, Robson is off. I can’t stand that blackface shit. And Gish — veteran nomination, and one I feel is warranted, her being such a huge early film name.

Kim Hunter in A Matter of Life and Death would be nice, but she’s kind of the lead, and it would never happen. Uhh… Teresa Wright in The Best Years of Our Lives? Is that it? Really?

Fuck it — I told you I can’t stand blackface. I’m making the change.

Oh, also — it would never happen, but I’d like to point out again — Natalie Wood in Tomorrow is Forever — holy shit that girl was a professional at age 8.

Compromise List:

  • Ethel Barrymore, The Spiral Staircase
  • Anne Baxter, The Razor’s Edge
  • Lillian Gish, Duel in the Sun
  • Gale Sondergaard, Anna and the King of Siam
  • Teresa Wright, The Best Years of Our Lives

My Vote: Anne Baxter, The Razor’s Edge

1945

Actual Nominees:

  • Eve Arden, Mildred Pierce
  • Ann Blyth, Mildred Pierce
  • Angela Lansbury, The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • Joan Lorring, The Corn Is Green
  • Anne Revere, National Velvet

My Vote: Anne Revere, National Velvet

The category’s perfect as it is. But we’ll look…

Jeanne Crain for Leave Her to Heaven? But who comes off? Lorring? I liked her. She made that movie tolerable for me. But that is an option, if we so choose. Joan Blondell in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is also one you can consider, but honestly, I don’t see why anyone would want to change this category. It works really well.

Compromise List:

  • Eve Arden, Mildred Pierce
  • Ann Blyth, Mildred Pierce
  • Angela Lansbury, The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • Joan Lorring, The Corn Is Green
  • Anne Revere, National Velvet

My Vote: Anne Revere, National Velvet

1944

Actual Nominees:

  • Ethel Barrymore, None But the Lonely Heart
  • Jennifer Jones, Since You Went Away
  • Angely Lansbury, Gaslight
  • Aline MacMahon, Dragon Seed
  • Agnes Moorehead, Mrs. Parkington

My Vote: Agnes Moorehead, Mrs. Parkington

Agnes Moorehead stays because of the year she had (it was astounding the varied roles she had this year). Barrymore stays because she has to. Jones was terrific and stays because she’s a top performance in the category. MacMahon was good, but is flexible. And Lansbury — meh. I can go either way there.

But since I don’t really see too many other options — I’ll leave it. Not so crazy about the white playing Asian thing, but — I’ll leave it.

Compromise List:

  • Ethel Barrymore, None But the Lonely Heart
  • Jennifer Jones, Since You Went Away
  • Angely Lansbury, Gaslight
  • Aline MacMahon, Dragon Seed
  • Agnes Moorehead, Mrs. Parkington

My Vote: Agnes Moorehead, Mrs. Parkington

1943

Actual Nominees:

  • Gladys Cooper, The Song of Bernadette
  • Paulette Goddard, So Proudly We Hail!
  • Katina Paxinou, For Whom the Bell Tolls
  • Anne Revere, The Song of Bernadette
  • Lucile Watson, Watch on the Rhine

My Vote: Paulette Goddard, So Proudly We Hail!

Oh, god I hate this category. Please let there be alternatives…

Not really. The problem with it is that it’s in the peak war year, so most films are propaganda based or war films, which are primarily male-oriented. Anything I could add is mostly based on who the actor is/what the role is (like Fay Bainter playing “Ma” in The Human Comedy. I don’t remember the performance that well, but even so, I’d only probably be changing it simply to make the category more appealing to myself).

Does Anne Baxter count as Supporting for Five Graves to Cairo? She’s kind of the lead. But if we can count her here, I’d put her on.

Yeah, I got nothing, though. Blame it on the war.

Compromise List:

  • Gladys Cooper, The Song of Bernadette
  • Paulette Goddard, So Proudly We Hail!
  • Katina Paxinou, For Whom the Bell Tolls
  • Anne Revere, The Song of Bernadette
  • Lucile Watson, Watch on the Rhine

My Vote: Paulette Goddard, So Proudly We Hail!

1942

Actual Nominees:

  • Gladys Cooper, Now, Voyager
  • Agnes Moorehead, The Magnificent Ambersons
  • Susan Peters, Random Harvest
  • May Whitty, Mrs. Miniver
  • Teresa Wright, Mrs. Miniver

My Vote: Agnes Moorehead, The Magnificent Ambersons

This is an amazing category. The only alternates I could suggest are Betty Field in Kings Row, who gives a really powerful performance in a tricky role (though she doesn’t carry the weight of the other actresses in this category… though she could be swapped out for Susan Peters), and — I don’t remember the performance that well, but I guess I could mention it anyway — Joan Leslie in Yankee Doodle Dandy.

If I were gonna swap out anyone on this list, it would be Susan Peters for Betty Field. But it’s not imperative. I’ll just mention her along with the category. I don’t need to change anything here.

Compromise List:

  • Gladys Cooper, Now, Voyager
  • Agnes Moorehead, The Magnificent Ambersons
  • Susan Peters, Random Harvest
  • May Whitty, Mrs. Miniver
  • Teresa Wright, Mrs. Miniver

My Vote: Teresa Wright, Mrs. Miniver

1941

Actual Nominees:

  • Sarah Allgood, How Green Was My Valley
  • Mary Astor, The Great Lie
  • Patricia Collinge, The Little Foxes
  • Teresa Wright, The Little Foxes
  • Margaret Wycherly, Sergeant York

My Vote: Mary Astor, The Great Lie

First — we can’t put Astor on here for Maltese Falcon because she won for Great Lie. Too bad.

Then — Ida Lupino was good in High Sierra, but that probably never happens. I liked Joan Bennett in Man Hunt, but that’s mostly the role more than the performance. I feel like a lot of people will find her accent hilariously bad. (Like I said, I focused more on the role itself than the performance.)

Everyone here pretty much makes sense, and I don’t have too much I can add to it, so I’m leaving it alone.

Compromise List:

  • Sarah Allgood, How Green Was My Valley
  • Mary Astor, The Great Lie
  • Patricia Collinge, The Little Foxes
  • Teresa Wright, The Little Foxes
  • Margaret Wycherly, Sergeant York

My Vote: Mary Astor, The Great Lie

1940

Actual Nominees:

  • Judith Anderson, Rebecca
  • Jane Darwell, The Grapes of Wrath
  • Ruth Hussey, The Philadelphia Story
  • Barbara O’Neil, All This and Heaven Too
  • Marjorie Rambeau, Primrose Path

My Vote: Judith Anderson, Rebecca

Right off the top, the category is 3/5 perfect. I’d never change Darwell, Anderson or O’Neil. Hussey is fleible depending on what’s there, and Rambeau is first off the minute I find someone.

That said — I don’t really have anyone else worth putting on. So I’m leaving it alone.

Compromise List:

  • Judith Anderson, Rebecca
  • Jane Darwell, The Grapes of Wrath
  • Ruth Hussey, The Philadelphia Story
  • Barbara O’Neil, All This and Heaven Too
  • Marjorie Rambeau, Primrose Path

My Vote: Judith Anderson, Rebecca

1939

Actual Nominees:

  • Olivia de Havilland, Gone With the Wind
  • Geraldine Fitzgerald, Wuthering Heights
  • Hattie McDaniel, Gone With the Wind
  • Edna May Oliver, Drums Along the Mohawk
  • Maria Ouspenskaya, Love Affair

My Vote: Hattie McDaniel, Gone With the Wind

Leaving all these 30s ones the same until I finish my 30s list.

Compromise List:

  • Olivia de Havilland, Gone With the Wind
  • Geraldine Fitzgerald, Wuthering Heights
  • Hattie McDaniel, Gone With the Wind
  • Edna May Oliver, Drums Along the Mohawk
  • Maria Ouspenskaya, Love Affair

My Vote: Hattie McDaniel, Gone With the Wind

1938

Actual Nominees:

  • Fay Bainter, Jezebel
  • Beulah Bondi, Of Human Hearts
  • Billie Burke, Merrily We Live
  • Spring Byington, You Can’t Take It With You
  • Miliza Korjus, The Great Waltz

My Vote: Beulah Bondi, Of Human Hearts

Leaving all these 30s ones the same until I finish my 30s list.

Compromise List:

  • Fay Bainter, Jezebel
  • Beulah Bondi, Of Human Hearts
  • Billie Burke, Merrily We Live
  • Spring Byington, You Can’t Take It With You
  • Miliza Korjus, The Great Waltz

My Vote: Beulah Bondi, Of Human Hearts

1937

Actual Nominees:

  • Alice Brady, In Old Chicago
  • Andrea Leeds, Stage Door
  • Anne Shirley, Stella Dallas
  • Claire Trevor, Dead End
  • May Whitty, Night Must Fall

My Vote: Andrea Leeds, Stage Door

Leaving all these 30s ones the same until I finish my 30s list.

Compromise List:

  • Alice Brady, In Old Chicago
  • Andrea Leeds, Stage Door
  • Anne Shirley, Stella Dallas
  • Claire Trevor, Dead End
  • May Whitty, Night Must Fall

My Vote: Andrea Leeds, Stage Door

1936

Actual Nominees:

  • Beulah Bondi, The Gorgeous Hussy
  • Alice Brady, My Man Godfrey
  • Bonita Granville, These Three
  • Maria Ouspenskaya, Dodsworth
  • Gale Sondergaard, Anthony Adverse

My Vote: Alice Brady, My Man Godfrey

Leaving all these 30s ones the same until I finish my 30s list.

Compromise List:

  • Beulah Bondi, The Gorgeous Hussy
  • Alice Brady, My Man Godfrey
  • Bonita Granville, These Three
  • Maria Ouspenskaya, Dodsworth
  • Gale Sondergaard, Anthony Adverse

My Vote: Alice Brady, My Man Godfrey

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